CCNet 101/2001 - 20 September 2001

"Altruism and heroism. If not for these twin radiant badges of our
humanity, there would be no us, and we know it. And so, when their
vile opposite threatened to choke us into submission last Tuesday, we
rallied them in quantities so great we surprised even ourselves. Nothing
and nobody can fully explain the source of the emotional genius that has
been everywhere on display. Politicians have cast it as evidence of the
indomitable spirit of a rock-solid America; pastors have given credit
to a more celestial source. And while biologists in no way claim to have
discovered the key to human nobility, they do have their own spin on
the subject. The altruistic impulse, they say, is a nondenominational gift,
the birthright and defining characteristic of the human species."
--Natalie Angier, The New York Times, 18 September 2001

"The attacks in New York and Washington are therefore no more then a
warning to the United States and the Western world - a warning meant to
terrorize these countries so much that they will not stand in the way of
fundamentalist Islamic organizations as they expand their sphere of
control. This warning is very clear: it is a warning of further things to
come. Military retaliation against bin Laden and his supporters is
therefore necessary, but not sufficient. Even more important is to
establish fundamental premises, which will, once and for all, create the
necessary tools for real and effective international cooperation
against terrorism. These tools should include a basic moral principle that
the deliberate targeting of civilians for the purposes of achieving
political aims - in other words, terrorism - is never justified or
legitimate, regardless of the goals or grievances of the
perpetrators. This principle must be enshrined in international legislation
and convention. Then, based on this principle, all sane states must
declare and accept that counter- terrorism is the primary interest
for all states, beyond any other economic, political or ideological
--Boaz Ganor, International Policy Institute for
Counter-Terrorism, 16 September 2001

    Ron Baalke <>

    Ron Baalke <>

    EKOnews <>

    Andrew Yee <>

    Michael Paine <>


    Andrew Yee <>

    The New York Times, 18 September 2001

    The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism

     Benny J Peiser <>

     Roger Launius <>

     Sergio German Wagner Stinco <>

     Andy Smith <>

     David Fisher <>

     James D. Perry  <>


>From Ron Baalke <>

Dolores Beasley/Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington                  September 18, 2001
(Phone:  202/358-1547)

Martha J. Heil
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone:  818/354-0850)

RELEASE: 01-184


Like a slugger trying to pile up extra home runs after breaking the world
record, a venerable NASA spacecraft already famed for bringing science
fiction's ion-engine technology to life is preparing to fly daringly close
to a comet on Saturday, Sept. 22.

Deep Space 1, which has already completed a highly successful mission
testing a number of advanced spacecraft technologies, will attempt to pass
inside the mostly unknown environment
just 2,000 kilometers (about 1,200 miles) from the nucleus of comet Borrelly
at 6:30 p.m. EDT (3:30 p.m. PDT) on Sept. 22.

"It has been a tremendously rewarding effort for the small Deep Space 1 team
to keep this aged and wounded bird aloft," said Dr. Marc Rayman, project
manager of Deep Space 1 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena,
Calif. "Its mission to test new technologies is already highly successful
and any science we get at the comet will be a terrific bonus."

By the time of the flyby Deep Space 1 will have completed three times its
intended lifetime in space and its primary mission to test ion propulsion
and 11 other high-risk, advanced technologies in September 1999. NASA
extended the mission, taking advantage of the ion propulsion and other
systems to target a chancy but exciting encounter with Borrelly.

The spacecraft may tell us more about comets and their place in the solar
system. The robotic explorer will attempt to investigate the comet's
environment when it tries to fly through the cloud of gas and dust
surrounding the comet's nucleus, known as the coma.

The risks involved in gathering science data are very high, so results of
this latest venture are unpredictable. The spacecraft will be traveling
through a cloud of gas, dust and comet pieces to collect its data. Since
Deep Space 1 wasn't built to go to a comet, it does not carry a protective
shield. "We expect to be hit by debris from the comet, and at 16.5
kilometers per second (about 36,900 mph), even a tiny particle might prove
fatal," said Rayman. "But this is an adventure too exciting to pass up."

If all goes well, scientists will use the comet chaser's measurements to
find out the nature of Borrelly's surface and to measure and identify the
gases coming from the comet. The spacecraft will also attempt to measure the
interaction of solar wind with the comet, a process that leads to formation
of the beautiful tail.

Borrelly makes a good target for study now, as it is just 1.34 astronomical
units (about 200 million kilometers or 125 million miles) from the Sun --
the closest it will get for
another seven years. The Sun's heat will make the gases escaping from the
nucleus flow faster and more thickly, so they will be easier to study. The
icy nucleus and the spacecraft will flash past each other at 16.5 kilometers
per second (more than 36,900 miles per hour).

The flight team is also hoping that Deep Space 1 will have enough gas to get
to the comet. The long-lived spacecraft keeps itself pointed correctly by
firing small thrusters fueled by hydrazine gas. When the hydrazine runs out,
Deep Space 1 will be unable to keep itself pointed correctly and the
spacecraft will die. The flight team has an estimate of how much gas is
left, but a few hours' worth of gas could make all the difference in the
comet encounter.

As it approaches the center of the coma, the spacecraft will face its
greatest challenge: to obtain pictures and infrared measurements of the
nucleus. Deep Space 1 can't tell exactly
where the nucleus is or what it will look like. The craft will have to
locate the nucleus on its own and try to point the camera toward it as it
streaks by.

In late 1999, Deep Space 1 lost its star tracker, which helps determine the
spacecraft's orientation. Faced with what could have been a
mission-terminating injury, the controllers performed a spectacular
ultra-long-distance rescue. They reconfigured the spacecraft to use the
photographic camera to orient itself by the stars around it.

The camera cannot align the spacecraft and snap photos of Borrelly at the
same time. Instead, Deep Space 1 will have to rely on its fiber-optic
gyroscopes to help maintain its orientation. But the gyros are not accurate
enough by themselves, so engineers designed complex new software to help the
camera stay pointed at the comet's nucleus during the critical few minutes
that the probe will be close enough to try to get a view of it.

Deep Space 1 was launched in October 1998 as part of NASA's New Millennium
Program, which is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science,
Washington. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL
for NASA. More information can be found online at:


>From Ron Baalke <>

'Aged and Wounded' Probe Plans Daring Flyby Saturday
By Robert Roy Britt and Robin Lloyd
16 September 2001

NASA's Deep Space 1 robotic probe, which has already completed all of its
mission goals by proving a dozen futuristic technologies, will attempt to
tackle one last task later this week in a dramatic pass through a cloud of
dust and gas surrounding a comet.

The tricky photo and science opportunity, billed by NASA as a "risky bonus
mission" to see the heart of the comet, is slated for 6:30 p.m. EDT
Saturday, Sept. 22.

The effort may well fail.

"This is a high-risk encounter and the encounter simply may not work," said
Marc Rayman, project manager for Deep Space 1. "We're of course trying hard
to make it work but we've got an aged and wounded bird up there. We're
pushing it far, far, far beyond what it was meant to do."

Full story here:


>From EKOnews <>

This email is to encourage your involvement in drafting a white paper on
Kuiper belt research for the Decadal Study. We believe that this area of
research will be particularly important in the coming years and thus should
have a significant place in the Decadal Study. This is unlikely
to occur or to have the kind of focus we'd like to see if our community does
not make itself known to the powers-that-be and offer guidance to them.
We'd like our report to convey the importance of Kuiper Belt studies over
the next decade, and stress the need for a sensible balance between
discovery, follow-up, physical observations, laboratory studies, and
dynamical studies.  Each of those requires different classes of telescope or
other facilities. We believe that a balanced approach is needed in funding
future studies and facilities. Specific points we make could potentially
influence funding decisions for many years to come, so we need to consider
our priorities carefully.  For example, it could be extremely useful to
obtain a dedicated 3 m class telescope (or much more time on existing
telescopes) for follow-up astrometry, since we're losing so many objects
soon after their discovery.

We need to move rapidly, if we're going to get an abstract submitted in time
for the DPS meeting (there will be a special poster session for Decadal
Study contributions by each panel).  In addition to a poster presentation at
DPS, the primary product of our effort is to be a white paper, which to be
useful must be completed before the final meeting of the Primitive Bodies
Panel, which is in December (we're a sub-panel of them).  Realistically, our
white paper needs to exist, at least in draft form, by the time of the DPS
meeting, so its outlines can be presented in poster form.  Will Grundy and
Hal Levison have agreed to coordinate integration of input for the abstract,
poster, and white paper. But rather than sending input directly to them, it
would be preferable to post text at the web site (see below) where others
can comment on it, add to it, etc.

It should be fairly straightforward to produce a presentation expressing the
need to balance several different threads if we can bring together text from
people active in specific areas of Kuiper Belt work (e.g., discovery,
dynamics, physical studies, astrometry, etc.).  We strongly encourage anyone
willing to contribute such a section to step forward and take the lead on
it.  Even if you are too busy to take the lead in writing a section, please
let us know what you think.  The best way to do this is through the panel
web site at: (look under open
panels). If you have already joined, great!  If not, we encourage you to do
so.  Let's make our voices heard.

Current members of the Kuiper belt community panel:
Will Grundy
Hal Levison
Joel Parker
Rachel Mastrapa
Alice Quillen
Joe Hahn
John Cooper

[This e-mail was sent using the distribution list for the Distant EKOs
newsletter. I felt this one-time mailing would be of sufficient interest to
the Kuiper belt community and, due to the impending deadlines, could not be
delayed until the next issue of the Newsletter. Please send all additional
communication to the decadal survey community panel; any e-mail sent to this
EKOnews address not get forwarded to the panel.  --- jp ]


>From Andrew Yee <>

[Extracted from inScight, Academic Press]

Monday, 17 September 2001, 5 pm PST

Sun Was a Hot Young Star

When the sun was just 1 million years old -- 1/4600th its current age -- it
was brighter than it is today. But an elaborate new computer simulation
indicates that the young sun was even hotter and brighter than astronomers
have thought. If the results hold up, they could change the way scientists
date young stars.

In its early years, the sun was still a protostar -- a ball of gas in which
the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium was just about to start. It's no
surprise that this protostar shined more brightly than today's sun, because
its contracting gases temporarily released more energy than fusion does now.

To arrive at the new estimate, Günther Wuchterl of the Max Planck Institute
of Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, and colleagues used a
special-purpose supercomputer called GRAPE (Science, 13 July, p. 201). They
simulated the entire star-forming process, starting with a fragmenting
interstellar molecular cloud and continuing through the formation of
protostellar "embryos" and the accretion of gas onto the young protostar.
Whereas current evolutionary models peg the young sun's luminosity at just
twice the present value, the new simulations suggest it was four times as
bright as it is now and that its surface was 500 degrees hotter, the team
reports in a paper accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal

Most earlier simulations treated each sun-spawning step "separately and,
hence, inconsistently," says theoretician Adam Burrows of the University of
Arizona in Tucson. "For 40 years, the astrophysics community has been
seeking a comprehensive and predictive theory of star formation. This new
work is a big step toward that goal."

Astronomers deduce the mass and age of a young star from its luminosity and
surface temperature, on the assumption that young protostars get fainter
with age. But if protostars start out brighter than current models predict,
their ages may well be underestimated, Wuchterl says.

© 2001 The American Association for the Advancement of Science


>From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny

There are two unrelated items of interest to CCNet at:
(Threat of killer waves)

Brimstone pickled Permian

Two hundred million years before the dinosaurs' demise another meteorite
impact may have devastated life on Earth.

18 September 2001

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, life on Earth nearly ceased. A
giant meteorite, six times larger than the one that did away with the
dinosaurs almost two hundred million years later, may have caused the
massive extinction at the end of the Permian period, researchers now

Kunio Kaiho of Tohoku University, Japan, and his colleagues have found
evidence in southern China that a massive impact converted huge amounts of
solid sulphur into sulphur-rich gases1.

The released sulphur could have consumed 20-40 per cent of the atmosphere's
oxygen, and generated enough acid rain to raise the acidity of the ocean's
surface waters temporarily to that of lemon juice. Ocean life would have
been pickled.

The fossil record shows that 95 per cent of all species disappeared in the
mass extinction that ended the Permian period. The event was more dramatic
even than the perishing of 70 per cent of species - including the dinosaurs
- at the boundary of the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods 65 million years
ago. The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction is generally blamed on a meteorite
impact in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.

For many years, the Permian extinction was thought to have been more
gradual, perhaps resulting from slow environmental changes. The formation of
vast plains of volcanic rock called the Siberian Traps, some researchers
suggest, released gases that either boiled or froze the Earth, through the
greenhouse effect or the reflection of sunlight from dust-like particles.

Other evidence points to the Permian extinction having been abrupt,
happening within 8,000-100,000 years - a timescale that implicates an
impacting comet or asteroid. This idea is supported by the discovery earlier
this year2 of fullerenes, cage-like carbon molecules, in sediments from the
end of the Permian. The molecules contained atoms of rare gases such as
helium, implying that they came from a meteorite.

The meteorite could have been up to 60km across

Now Kaiho's team has found sulphate in end-Permian limestone, marl and shale
rocks formed from shallow sea-floor sediments. The rocks also have a
nickel-rich layer, which could have been carried by an impacting meteorite.
Moreover, in the nickel-rich layer, the researchers detect a sudden change
in the relative amounts of different sulphur isotopes (whose atoms have
slightly different masses).

If a giant meteorite impact vaporized a large area of sulphur-containing
rock where it struck the seabed, it would probably have ejected the lighter
of sulphur's two common natural isotopes into the air, changing the isotope
ratio of the remaining rocks.

>From the size of isotope ratio shift, Kaiho's group estimates that the
meteorite could have been up to 60 kilometres across. The
Cretaceous-Tertiary meteorite was probably less than 10 km across.
Kaiho, K. et al. End-Permian catastrophe by a bolide impact: evidence of a
gigantic release of sulfur from the mantle. Geology, 29, 815 - 818, (2001).
Becker, L., Poreda, R. J., Hunt, A. G., Bunch, T. E. 7 Rampino, M. Impact
event at the Permian-Triassic boundary: evidence from extraterrestrial noble
gases in fullerenes. Science, 291, 1530 - 1533, (2001).

© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2001

>From, 19 September 2001

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer

Though terrorists triggered the collapse of the World Trade Center's Twin
Towers, much of the energy -- calculated by a physicist to have been at
least 2 percent that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima -- was supplied
by Nature's most ubiquitous force: gravity.

The force that keeps our feet on the ground and holds planets in orbit
swiftly fueled a runaway momentum that created thundering impacts so great
they were detected by equipment designed to monitor earthquakes.

Meanwhile, some scientists have suggested that even without the searing
fire, the structural integrity of the buildings might have been compromised
enough by the planes' impacts to cause the towers' ultimate collapse anyway.

Momentum builds

In analyzing the disaster, most engineers and architects assume that the top
floors gave way when fire melted the steel structures that support the
towers. The resulting collapse of the upper floors triggered a chain
reaction that few buildings of any height could have withstood, several
experts said.

"Ultimately it was gravity," said Jon Magnusson, chairman and chief
executive of Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire, a Seattle firmed that did
the original structural engineering work on the towers. "But it was the fire
that defeated all the buildings' defenses against gravity."

Frank Moscatelli, a physics professor at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania,
calculated the total energy released in the disaster based on the amount of
jet fuel aboard the 767s, their speed at impact, and the weight of the

"The airplanes destroyed the upper 20 floors," Moscatelli told
"Gravity did the rest."

"Once the upper floors began to fall, they gained momentum," Moscatelli
explained. "As each floor collapses, more weight smashes into the floor
below, and the momentum builds tremendously and rapidly."

Mathematically, the momentum is a function of the buildings' height and
weight, along with the acceleration of gravity. Moscatelli said the total
energy released by the impacts, explosions and collapses was between 1/50th
and 1/20th that of the Hiroshima bomb.

Shaking the ground

When the crumbling towers thudded to the ground, they created ground tremors
equal to earthquakes of magnitude 2.1 and 2.3, as measured by a seismic
station in Palisades, New York, 21 miles (34 kilometers) north of Manhattan.

These would be small numbers for earthquakes, not likely to be felt by
anyone, since an earthquake is typically centered miles below the surface,
its energy radiating out and dissipating over great distances. But the
energy from the collapse of the towers was focused in a very small area,
making it remarkable that the events were detected at all outside lower

Much of this energy went into destroying the buildings themselves and
generating the cloud of debris.

More surprising, even the impacts of the airliners shook the ground,
registering with the equivalent of earthquakes with magnitudes of 0.7 and

Magnusson, the structural engineer, said that if fire had not brought the
buildings down, a strong wind might have eventually toppled them.

"If there was no fire, in my opinion the buildings would be standing today,"
Magnusson said in a telephone interview. "And they would stand until there
was a significant wind storm."

The Twin Towers, like most skyscrapers, were designed to handle
hurricane-force winds. But all of this wind resistance is built into the
exterior of the buildings, Magnusson explained. The holes carved into the
side of the buildings by the impacts "would have been a problem for the wind
resisting system," he said.

Mir Ali, a professor of architecture at the University of Illinois,
disagreed. He said that while the gaping holes would have caused the
buildings to sway more in the wind, they would likely have withstood the
pressure. In any event, the holes could have been beefed up, he said,
assuming no big storms arrived before builders had time.

Other possible damage

Another scientist suggested that the building might have had other
structural damage, something that might never be determined from the rubble
of the disaster.

The impact of the hijacked jets could have created a vibration, or
oscillation, in the buildings, said Arthur Lerner-Lam, Associate Director
for geology and geophysics at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory, which reported the seismic observations.

All tall buildings can oscillate in the wind, a factor taken into account by

Lerner-Lam said that the vibrations set in motion early in the morning on
Sept. 11 would likely have been at a higher frequency than those caused by
wind. He said that it's possible, though speculative to say so given scant
evidence, that the higher frequency might have damaged the building to the
extent that it would have ultimately toppled.

Some eyewitness reports told of what appeared to be buckling in walls below
the level of the fire, Lerner-Lam said.

He described the potential vibration as akin to a ringing bell. The initial
ringing would have damped out quickly. But if large enough, it could have
left permanent damage. In such a scenario, the steel support beams would
behave like plastic, Lerner-Lam explained: Bend them a little, they spring
back. Bend them further, they stay bent. Bend them enough, they break.

Both Magnusson and Ali said they doubted this scenario.

"Oscillations can damage a building," Magnusson said. "But it would have
revealed itself in the first few minutes."

The south tower collapsed 56 minutes after being struck. The north tower
collapsed 1 hour and 40 minutes after impact.

Designing the future

Still, several engineers say the construction of the buildings, in
particular their combustibility, contributed to their demise.

Each tower was supported primarily by a series of steel columns built into
the exteriors, 61 on each side. These pillars support their own weight and
half the weight of the floors, Magnusson said. A cluster of columns at the
center did heavier lifting, supporting themselves, half the weight of the
floors, and all of the elevators and other mechanical systems.

Steel trusses tied the two sets of columns together, providing

Engineers aren't sure if the central columns were compromised in the fires.
But regardless, an important question has emerged: Can future buildings be
designed to survive similar attacks?

Ali, the University of Illinois architecture professor, said improvements in
design can be made. Using less combustible materials on floors and walls
would slow the spread of fires, allowing for more effective evacuations.

Structurally, concrete is less vulnerable to fire than glass and steel, Ali
said, and designers will have to consider thicker external structures.

When the World Trade Center was built, in the 1970s, concrete was too heavy
to be a practical material for a 110-story building. More recently, stronger
types of concrete have been developed, and steel-reinforced concrete is
increasingly the material of choice for skyscrapers.

But future design changes will be limited by cost. To make a building truly
terrorist-resistant, it would have to be built like a nuclear plant, Ali
said, so that an airliner could not penetrate the exterior and a fire could
not spread.

"Huge concrete walls" would be required, Ali said. "Cost-wise, it is

Copyright 2001,


>From Andrew Yee <>

Fact Sheet
Prepared by:
Seismology Group
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Palisades NY 10964

Version of 9/14/01

Seismograph stations in southern New York, northern New Jersey, western
Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, operated by the Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory of Columbia University, recorded the collapse of each of the
towers of the World Trade Center on Tuesday morning September 11 and the
subsequent collapse of 7 World Trade Center later that afternoon. The
closest station, at Palisades, New York, is located 21 miles (34 km) north
of lower Manhattan in Rockland County. This station also registered the
impacts of the two airliners that crashed into the towers.

The signals generated by the collapsing North and South towers were much
larger than those from the two airliner impacts. The signals generated by
the collapse of Building 7, however, were smaller than those of the
impacts. In addition, many smaller signals were registered at Palisades
throughout the rest of the day that may have originated from the further
collapse of the Twin Towers and the fall of walls and other debris in the
surrounding area.

The Palisades recordings of the Twin Tower collapses were comparable in size
to the signals from a small earthquake of seismic magnitude 2.4 that was
felt in the east side of Manhattan and in the western parts of Queens
earlier this year, on January 17.

The seismic signals from the five events on 11 September differed from a
small earthquake in that they were richer in low-frequency energy and poorer
in high-frequency energy. These differences can be attributed to the short
time duration of the fault rupture responsible for the earthquake as
compared to the long and complex collapse of the buildings. The seismic
waves from the five World Trade Center events resemble those produced by the
collapse of a salt mine south of Rochester, in 1994.

The catastrophic events at the World Trade Center, as might be expected,
produced much larger seismic effects than the bombing of the World Trade
Center in 1993. The seismic effects of the collapses are comparable to the
explosions at a gasoline tank farm near Newark on January 7, 1983, which
were detected up to 130 miles away.

The seismographic stations are part of the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative
Seismographic Network, which is operated in conjunction with several other
institutions and is supported by the U.S. Geological Survey under the
National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program. As part of its agreement with
the USGS, Lamont-Doherty makes this data available upon request without

Preliminary measurements made by Lamont-Doherty analysts are summarized in
the Table below:

Information Based on Seismic Waves recorded at Palisades New York
Event                origin time (EDT)           Magnitude        Duration
(hours:minutes:seconds) (equivalent seismic)
Impact 1 at North Tower      08:46:26+/-1           0.9         12 seconds
Impact 2 at South Tower      09:02:54+/-2           0.7          6 seconds
Collapse 1, South Tower      09:59:04+/-1           2.1         10 seconds
Collapse 2, North Tower      10:28:31+/-1           2.3          8 seconds
Collapse 3, Building 7       17:20:33+/-1           0.6         18 seconds

More information [incl. seismogram traces] may be obtained on the World Wide
Web at:
For further information contact:

Won Young Kim,
Jeremiah Armitage,
John Armbruster,
Klaus Jacob,
Arthur Lerner-Lam,
Paul Richards,
Lynn R. Sykes,
Jia-Kang Xie,


>From The New York Times, 18 September 2001


For the wordless, formless, expectant citizens of tomorrow, here are some
postcards of all that matters today:

Minutes after terrorists slam jet planes into the towers of the World Trade
Center, streams of harrowed humanity crowd the emergency stairwells, heading
in two directions. While terrified employees scramble down, toward exit
doors and survival, hundreds of New York firefighters, each laden with 70 to
100 pounds of lifesaving gear, charge upward, never to be seen again.

As the last of four hijacked planes advance toward an unknown but surely
populated destination, passengers huddle together and plot resistance
against their captors, an act that may explain why the plane fails to reach
its target, crashing instead into an empty field outside Pittsburgh.

Hearing of the tragedy whose dimensions cannot be charted or absorbed, tens
of thousands of people across the nation storm their local hospitals and
blood banks, begging for the chance to give blood, something of themselves
to the hearts of the wounded - and the heart of us all - beating against the

Altruism and heroism. If not for these twin radiant badges of our humanity,
there would be no us, and we know it. And so, when their vile opposite
threatened to choke us into submission last Tuesday, we rallied them in
quantities so great we surprised even ourselves.

Nothing and nobody can fully explain the source of the emotional genius that
has been everywhere on display. Politicians have cast it as evidence of the
indomitable spirit of a rock-solid America; pastors have given credit to a
more celestial source. And while biologists in no way claim to have
discovered the key to human nobility, they do have their own spin on the
subject. The altruistic impulse, they say, is a nondenominational gift, the
birthright and defining characteristic of the human species.

As they see it, the roots of altruistic behavior far predate Homo sapiens,
and that is why it seems to flow forth so readily once tapped. Recent
studies that model group dynamics suggest that a spirit of cooperation will
arise in nature under a wide variety of circumstances.

"There's a general trend in evolutionary biology toward recognizing that
very often the best way to compete is to cooperate," said Dr. Barbara Smuts,
a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, who has published
papers on the evolution of altruism. "And that, to me, is a source of some
solace and comfort."

Moreover, most biologists concur that the human capacity for language and
memory allows altruistic behavior - the desire to give, and to sacrifice for
the sake of others - to flourish in measure far beyond the cooperative
spirit seen in other species.

With language, they say, people can learn of individuals they have never met
and feel compassion for their suffering, and honor and even emulate their
heroic deeds. They can also warn one another of any selfish cheaters or
malign tricksters lurking in their midst.

"In a large crowd, we know who the good guys are, and we can talk about, and
ostracize, the bad ones," said Dr. Craig Packer, a professor of ecology and
evolution at the University of Minnesota. "People are very concerned about
their reputation, and that, too, can inspire us to be

Oh, better than good.

"There's a grandness in the human species that is so striking, and so
profoundly different from what we see in other animals," he added. "We are
an amalgamation of families working together. This is what civilization is
derived from."

At the same time, said biologists, the very conditions that encourage
heroics and selflessness can be the source of profound barbarism as well.
"Moral behavior is often a within-group phenomenon," said Dr. David Sloan
Wilson, a professor of biology at the State University of New York at
Binghamton. "Altruism is practiced within your group, and often turned off
toward members of other groups."

The desire to understand the nature of altruism has occupied evolutionary
thinkers since Charles Darwin, who was fascinated by the apparent existence
of altruism among social insects. In ant and bee colonies, sterile female
workers labor ceaselessly for their queen, and will even die for her when
the nest is threatened. How could such seeming selflessness evolve, when it
is exactly those individuals that are behaving altruistically that fail to
breed and thereby pass their selfless genes along?

By a similar token, human soldiers who go to war often are at the beginning
of their reproductive potential, and many are killed before getting the
chance to have children. Why don't the stay-at-homes simply outbreed the
do-gooders and thus bury the altruistic impulse along with the casualties of

The question of altruism was at least partly solved when the British
evolutionary theorist William Hamilton formulated the idea of inclusive
fitness: the notion that individuals can enhance their reproductive success
not merely by having young of their own, but by caring for their genetic
relatives as well. Among social bees and ants, it turns out, the sister
workers are more closely related to one another than parents normally are to
their offspring; thus it behooves the workers to care more about current and
potential sisters than to fret over their sterile selves.

The concept of inclusive fitness explains many brave acts observed in
nature. Dr. Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard, cites the example
of the red colobus monkey. When they are being hunted by chimpanzees, the
male monkeys are "amazingly brave," Dr. Wrangham said. "As the biggest and
strongest members of their group, they undoubtedly could escape quicker than
the others." Instead, the males jump to the front, confronting the
chimpanzee hunters while the mothers and offspring jump to safety. Often,
the much bigger chimpanzees pull the colobus soldiers off by their tails and
slam them to their deaths.

Their courageousness can be explained by the fact that colobus monkeys live
in multimale, multifemale groups in which the males are almost always
related. So in protecting the young monkeys, the adult males are defending
their kin.

Yet, as biologists are learning, there is more to cooperation and generosity
than an investment in one's nepotistic patch of DNA. Lately, they have
accrued evidence that something like group selection encourages the
evolution of traits beneficial to a group, even when members of the group
are not related.

In computer simulation studies, Dr. Smuts and her colleagues modeled two
types of group-living agents that would behave like herbivores: one that
would selfishly consume all the food in a given patch before moving on, and
another that would consume resources modestly rather than greedily, thus
allowing local plant food to regenerate.

Researchers had assumed that cooperators could collaborate with genetically
unrelated cooperators only if they had the cognitive capacity to know
goodness when they saw it.

But the data suggested otherwise. "These models showed that under a wide
range of simulated environmental conditions you could get selection for
prudent, cooperative behavior," Dr. Smuts said, even in the absence of
cognition or kinship. "If you happened by chance to get good guys together,
they remained together because they created a mutually beneficial

This sort of win-win principle, she said, could explain all sorts of
symbiotic arrangements, even among different species - like the tendency of
baboons and impalas to associate together because they use each other's
warning calls.

Add to this basic mechanistic selection for cooperation the human capacity
to recognize and reward behaviors that strengthen the group - the tribe, the
state, the church, the platoon - and selflessness thrives and multiplies.
So, too, does the need for group identity. Classic so-called minimal group
experiments have shown that when people are gathered together and assigned
membership in arbitrary groups, called, say, the Greens and the Reds, before
long the members begin expressing amity for their fellow Greens or Reds and
animosity toward those of the wrong "color."

"Ancestral life frequently consisted of intergroup conflict," Dr. Wilson of
SUNY said. "It's part of our mental heritage."

Yet he does not see conflict as inevitable. "It's been shown pretty well
that where people place the boundary between us and them is extremely
flexible and strategic," he said. "It's possible to widen the moral circle,
and I'm optimistic enough to believe it can be done on a worldwide scale."

Ultimately, though, scientists acknowledge that the evolutionary framework
for self-sacrificing acts is overlaid by individual choice. And it is there,
when individual firefighters or office workers or airplane passengers choose
the altruistic path that science gives way to wonder.

Dr. James J. Moore, a professor of anthropology at the University of
California at San Diego, said he had studied many species, including many
different primates. "We're the nicest species I know," he said. "To see
those guys risking their lives, climbing over rubble on the chance of
finding one person alive, well, you wouldn't find baboons doing that." The
horrors of last week notwithstanding, he said, "the overall picture to come
out about human nature is wonderful."

"For every 50 people making bomb threats now to mosques," he said, "there
are 500,000 people around the world behaving just the way we hoped they
would, with empathy and expressions of grief. We are amazingly civilized."

True, death-defying acts of heroism may be the province of the few. For the
rest of us, simple humanity will do.

Copyright 2001, The New York Yimes


>From The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 16 September

By Boaz Ganor
ICT Executive Director

It seems more and more certain that cells of Afghan veterans, under the
leadership of Osama bin Laden, were behind the horrifying terror attacks in
New York and Washington, D.C. last Tuesday. Today, many Americans are asking
themselves what can and should be done in retaliation against the terrorist
organizations, their supporters, and the nations that harbor them. Suggested
courses of action range from the restrained - a one-time pinpoint strike -
to a huge offensive attack against bin Laden's bases and against the Taliban
regime in Afghanistan which shelters him. Such an attack would entail
enormous difficulties: from gathering the necessary intelligence to the
planning and execution of a large-scale operation in very hostile terrain.
But even if the attack succeeds - even if bin Laden is arrested or killed,
and his al-Qaida organization dealt a devastating blow - even so, it is
likely that nothing will really be solved.

Bin Laden's operatives and supporters are many, and include the Afghan
veterans and their colleagues from other Islamic fundamentalist
organizations, from numerous Arab and Moslem states. All of these elements
have joined together to form the "International Islamic Front against the
Jews and the Crusaders," an umbrella organization created by bin Laden in
order to coordinate their activity. These supporters are not limited to any
one country, and cannot be easily identified and neutralized; and they will
probably do their outmost to take revenge against America and its allies for
any attack on bin Laden. This, of course, is not to say that the United
States should refrain from using military measures in order to retaliate
against bin Laden and his supporters. But this military operation will not
be enough.

The attack in New York and Washington is the beginning of a
cultural-religious war: a war between fundamentalist Islam and the rest of
the world - both liberal-democratic countries and moderate Arab and Moslem
regimes. Bin Laden and his followers regard America as their main enemy
because it is America that leads the Western and democratic world, and
supports the moderate Arab regimes. Moreover, America is regarded in their
eyes as controlling and contaminating the holy places of Islam -
particularly those in Saudi-Arabia - through the presence of military
personnel there and in other countries in the Persian Gulf since the Gulf
war in 1991. America also is condemned by Bin laden for its support of
Israel, which he regards as the "arrowhead in the heart of the Islamic
world," which must be rooted out and destroyed.

American president George W. Bush has declared war on the perpetrators of
the attacks. And yet, in reality, this war was already declared years ago by
Islamic fundamentalist organizations. The attacks of "Black Tuesday" were
merely the latest, and most terrible, escalation in this ongoing war. And
although Osama bin Laden crossed the Rubicon with these attacks, carrying
them out is not, in and of itself, his true goal. Bin Laden sees himself as
the leader of the Islamic fundamentalist world. As such, he sees it as his
duty to expand by conquest the portion of the world ruled by Islam, until
all the world will be under the rule of Sharia (Islamic Law).

The attacks in New York and Washington are therefore no more then a warning
to the United States and the Western world - a warning meant to terrorize
these countries so much that they will not stand in the way of
fundamentalist Islamic organizations as they expand their sphere of
control. This warning is very clear: it is a warning of further things to

Military retaliation against bin Laden and his supporters is therefore
necessary, but not sufficient. Even more important is to establish
fundamental premises, which will, once and for all, create the necessary
tools for real and effective international cooperation against
terrorism. These tools should include a basic moral principle that the
deliberate targeting of civilians for the purposes of achieving political
aims - in other words, terrorism - is never justified or legitimate,
regardless of the goals or grievances of the perpetrators. This principle
must be enshrined in international legislation and convention. Then, based
on this principle, all sane states must declare and accept that
counter-terrorism is the primary interest for all states, beyond any other
economic, political or ideological interest.

Based on these two fundamental premises - the correct definition of
terrorism and its complete denunciation, and primacy of the fight against
terrorism above other international interests - the civilized world must
establish international legislation and conventions to deepen international
cooperation in counter-terrorism. Such legislation should make it incumbent
on all nations to comply with counter-terrorism efforts against terrorist
organizations and the states that support them. Essential to international
cooperation against terrorist organizations is cooperation in:

* Counter-terrorist intelligence - interception, warnings and offensive

* Economic counter-terrorism - blocking the financing of terrorist
organizations, preventing them from raising, transferring and laundering

* Political counter-terrorism - recognition that all terrorist organizations
have concrete political or ideological aims. It must thus be made clear
these organization that the use of terrorism will endanger their ultimate

* Offensive counter-terrorism - the creation of elite international
counter-terrorism units, which will help states who find themselves under
terrorist attack to defend themselves;

* Technological counter-terrorism - the development of cooperative
intelligence, offensive and defensive counter-terrorism technologies.

All states that initiate terrorist attacks, execute attacks by proxy, or
provide ideological, economic, military or operational support to terrorist
organizations, must be identified and branded as state sponsors of
terrorism. This must include states that provide terrorists with safe havens
and refuse to extradite them; along with states which allow terrorists and
their supporters to recruit activists and collect money within their
territory, or to incite others to commit terrorist acts or to support
terrorist activity. Based on the above premises, the international community
must declare an economic embargo on all such states and their economic
interests, both private and public. A secondary boycott should be declared
on states and companies that do not respect these sanctions.

The premises above must therefore to be accepted by all sane states-whether
Western or Third World states-in order to prevent further terrorist
atrocities and a sure deterioration in world stability. International
acceptance of these premises-and the counter-terrorism measures that will be
based on them-may be the only way to prevent further outrages such as those
seen in New York and Washington on "Black Tuesday."

Copyright 2001, International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism


>From Benny J Peiser <>

"Catastrophe/Apocalypse" is a course being given every fall at Bard College
by Prof. William Mullen. Bill and his students have set up a website
featuring this innovative course about "cenocatastrophism" and would
appreciate feedback and suggestions by CCNet readers on how the course might
be improved. They would also like to hear from others involved in similar
courses elsewhere. Please feel free to send your comments and suggestions to



It would be hard to find a culture that has no cosmic catastrophes in its
sacred narratives: deluges, combats in the sky, universal conflagrations.
Usually the sacred traditions speak of these catastrophes as in the past,
whether at the beginning of the world or in human memory. Sometimes they are
also foretold for the future, and are then viewed apocalyptically, as
ultimate revelations of a divine plan. Why do so many cultures set these
stories and prophecies at the center of their traditional thought?

"Catastrophe/Apocalypse" examines a range of explanations and see how each
affects our evaluation of the works read. It places in the foreground the
"catastrophist" reading, which assumes that massive catastrophes have in
fact repeatedly recurred on the earth since human memory, and are the
experience out of which the myths were made. But it also studies how these
myths are reinterpreted by each generation which retells them in the light
of its own experience, in different and usually calmer environments. The
myths accrete new meanings as they are retold, and the task of
interpretation is to see the full range of meanings they are asked to bear
from generation to generation.


"Catastrophe/Apocalypse begins with a three-week introduction to
catastrophism as a scientific paradigm-- its 19th century battle with
uniformitarianism, and its return to respectability in the last decades of
the 20th century, when mainstream science incorporated the Alvarez
hypothesis that the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other species at
the end of the Cretaceous was caused by the impact of a giant asteroid. It
reviews the long history of proto-scientific catastrophist thinkers (as
opposed to traditional tellers of "myths"), moving from such pre-Socratic
philosophers as Xenophanes, Heraclitus and Democritus down to independent
thinkers of the Renaisance and Enlightenment such as Bruno, Whiston and
Boulanger. And it surveys the various terms by which recent writers have
tried to bring out this or that essential role they see catastrophes as
playing in larger paradigms of thought: "punctuated equilibrium",
"quantavolution", "coherent catastrophism", "cenocatastrophism".

Major types of catastrophic myth are also studied in these opening weeks:
deluges, conflagrations, combats in the sky. Stress is placed on reading a
large number of myths, excerpted from their cultural contexts for the sake
of establishing their independent emergence all around the globe and of
making a preliminary survey of recurrent themes and motifs.

In the main body of the course six cultures are then studied in depth:
Mesopotamian, Greek, Egyptian, Judaeo-Christian, Mayan and Norse. In each
cultural block the principal traditional texts are read with a variety of
interpretive strategies, grouped loosely under four rubrics:

U (Uniformitarian): No real massive catastrophes ever actually occurred and
the descriptions of them have to be accounted for by some other way than
assuming that they did.

C (Catastrophist): Massive catastrophes occurred and the assumption that
that is the case is crucial to understanding the kinds of meanings the
stories about them had accreted by the time the texts were put in writing.

B (Both): The texts will reflect both the catastrophic events that
originated them and later periods of environmental stability and calm during
which those texts were rethought and transformed.

N (Neither): There are a whole set of things that may be said about how the
texts work irrespective of whether massive catastrophes actually occurred to
originate them (e.g. the narrative logic of a text, or the way it came to
function in its society).

In both of the two papers students write on texts from these six cultures
they are asked to keep all four approaches-- U, C, B and N-- in mind.

The last week of class is given over to the effort to see how a
catastrophist approach to ancient myths might make us rethink the psychology
of homo sapiens as a whole. Detailed consideration is given to Alfred
deGrazia's theory that what is distinctively human was mutated in a sudden
gestalt, under catastrophic circumstances, out of earlier hominid behavior,
and to Gunnar Heinsohn's meditations on the relationship of humanity's
experience of past catastrophes to the apocalyptic mindset with which so
many human beings-- secular as well as religious, environmentalist as well
as fundamentalist-- approach the problems of the future.

Catastrophism, defined as the postulation of massive catastrophes of global
extent to explain the geological and biological record of the earth's past,
has once more become respectable, even mainstream, ever since the early
1980's when scientists started taking seriously the Alvarez hypothesis that
the demise of the dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid impact (the so-called
Cretaceous/Tertiary Extinction Event). The possibility that such impacts
could occur during the flourishing of homo sapiens is also assumed by
current efforts to develop a technology to monitor and deflect NEO's (near
earth objects) in the future. The question then arises: if such events
occurred in the pre-human past, and are foreseeable in the human future,
what is the evidence that they have already occurred within human memory?

One of the goals of "Catastrophe/Apocalypse" is to show how many earlier
generations of rational thinkers have attempted to answer that question.
Another goal is to keep abreast of the most recent and sophisticated
answers, so as to show that "cenocatastrophism" (the postulation of global
catastrophes within human memory) can be seen in the context of other
mainstream scientific endeavors. To this end the course materials include

active e-mail lists such as the Cambridge Conference Network at;

websites connected to catastrophist societies and journals such as;

essays online such as Trevor Palmer's "The Fall and Rise of Catastrophism"

recent CD-roms with back issues of catastrophist journals such as
Catastrophism! Man, Myth, and Mayhem (Version 1.0, Sept. 1999).

Prof. Mullen first gave the course in Fall 1999. By professional training he
is a classicist who has written on ancient Greek poetry and on the American
Founding Fathers' use of Roman precedents. He has studied at Harvard (B.A.
1968) and Univ. of Texas (Ph. D. 1972), and taught at Berkeley, Boston
University, St. John's College, and, since 1985, Bard College. His work in
catastrophism dates from the early 1970's, when he was a contributing editor
of Pensée Magazine. Among his most recent publications is "The Agenda of the
Milesian School: The Post-Catastrophic Paradigm Shift in Ancient Greece", in
Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age Civilisations, ed. Benny Peiser,
Trevor Palmer, and Mark E. Bailey (Archaeopress, Oxford, 1998), which forms
part of a larger project entitled Catastrophism and the Axial Age. He gives
"Catastrophe/Apocalypse" every fall at Bard College in the Classical Studies


>From Roger Launius <>

Greetings All:

In the aftermath of the horrific events of the past week I thought you would
appreciate the words of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, written to the world just
after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


Roger D. Launius

NASA Chief Historian

Like most of the world, I watched with horror and disbelief the unfolding
events of Black Tuesday: local networks gave BBC and CNN coverage for hours.

I, and all my associates, would like to send our deepest sympathy to those
directly or indirectly involvedwhich by now must mean almost everybody. And
we appreciate the e-mail messages we have received from many friends in the
areas affected, reassuring us of their safety.

It has been said that every catastrophe is an opportunity and one can only
hope that this atrocity will unite the whole world in an effort to stamp out
those responsible.

Meanwhile, life must go on. To quote the words of the greatest
Anglo-American of the last century, Winston Churchill: "Never give up--never
give up--never EVER give up!"

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

12 September 2001


>From Sergio German Wagner Stinco <>

Dear Dr. Peiser
I'm a subscriber from Argentina to CCNet. I want to thank you for your
coverage of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. The US is
not the only victim. The United States are
such a diverse society that there are families and friends throughout the
world suffering right now. Eventually, USA will heal. They are strong people
and determined to continue their way of life and the values that they hold
dearly -- freedom.

The terrorists have had their terrible moment, but they will not sway the
world to their cause. In fact, they will probably achieve just the opposite.
Their horrible actions will unite the world, rather than divide it.

We truly marvel at the outpouring of worldwide support. It proves that one
person can make a difference. You and your Network make this a better world
when you speak out against terror. May the civilized world remain safe and

Thank you for your support and your prayers.

Sergio German S. Wagner, S.S.E.
Examenes de la Costa Science Workshop- CUMBRE Multimedia
The Planetary Society Coordinator,Argentina


>From Andy Smith <>

Hello Benny and the CCNet,

We are all still adjusting to the shocks of last week and the great tragic
events, in New York and Virginia. Thanks for your thoughts and expressions,
on the CCNet.

The CCNet is many good things. First, it is probably the most important
technical forum in the history of the human race. It is the most important
forum because it brings togeather the international community of experts who
are all fully aware of the dangers and the disturbingly high risks
associated with asteroid or comet impact on our planet....and it gives us
opportunity for a daily dialogue. 

Our Responsibility

Our CCNet group is relatively small and much of our knowledge is relatively
new, but we occupy a unique place in the World. Our knowledge places a
tremendous burden of responsibility upon inform others, to act to
bring-about more governmental support and to work to prepare to prevent the
next impact, if possible, and to survive it, if we must.

The smallest Near-Earth Object (NEO) on our 10-step asteroid/comet emergency
(ACE) scale is the 50 meter Tunguska or Barringer asteroid or comet. It has
a destructive energy level of about 20 million tons of TNT. The alarmingly
high annual risk of this impact is about 1 in 100. If it were to hit near
New York City or Los Angeles or Tokyo or Chicago or London or any one of
more than a hundred metropolitan areas, in the World, it would totally
destroy everything and everyone. The population in the New York area is now
more than 16 million people....and they are all likely to be victims.

We know what we need to do to prepare and both the technology and the
hardware are on-the-shelf. What we lack is adequate governmental support and
the very modest funding required......perhaps $15 million a year, to
adequately fund the 6 dedicated and presently active asteroid search teams;
$150 million or so to fund the equipment and operation of the large (8
meter/30K x 30K mosaic CCD) asteroid search telescope (LAST) for at least a
decade; a good world team-effort to plan a quick-response deflection system
(using available sub-systems) and a good civil emergency preparedness

Lest We Forget
As we pray and cry for the people in the Manhattan and Pentagon disasters,
let us re-dedicate ourselves to doing all we can, while there is still time,
to prevent this cataclysmic impact event. The one thing we know, with
certainty, is that the rock, with our name on it, is on the way. Chancellor
Clarke has been reminding us of this for many decades and he is right. The
sky is falling.

Please Keep Up The Good Work

Again, we want to thank all of those, in our group, who are working,
tirelessly, to help with this cause. We are trying to get more support for
you, more recognition of the value of your work, in the key offices of the
governments of the World, and increased funding, from both government and
private sources. Let's hope and pray we will have the time we need to
do the work that must be done.

The Jury

The second big value, in our network, is that we stand as a silent jury and
watch our leaders and measure their adequacy to recognize and prepare to
meet this alarming and inevitable emergency. Because of our special
awareness, we should communicate with world leaders, individually (as many
of us do) and collectively (as we could, using the CCNet).

It is this collective role that we are now addressing. We want to urge Benny
to prepare a policy statement (of concern), which we can review (using the
Net) and endorse and send to the national leaders, around the
would outline the problem and make recommendations for action.

We feel such action is important, now, because so many key leaders (and
their staffs) are just not aware of the facts and the needs and the urgency.

We appreciate, very much, the recognition by Jens Kieffer-Olsen (CCNet 14
September), of the need to treat this situation as a clear and present
emergency situation and we urge everyone to keep up the good work and to
press, at all levels, for support and funding.

Cheers.....Andy Smith


>From David Fisher <>

Dear Benny,

I'd like to point out a critical and often misunderstood point in Michael
Paine's analysis of the scientific process, when he says: "It does not
matter who you are or how important you think your idea is--if it is
contradicted by the evidence, it is wrong."

First, you have to be sure that the "evidence" is correct. For example, the
first experiment to test special relativity showed that the theory was
wrong; the experiment, as it turned out, was flawed. And Kelvin's "evidence"
in the form of cooling calculations showed that the earth couldn't be as old
as the evolutionists wanted.

So you have to be careful. Nature isn't malicious, but she's a tricky little
devil. As Louis Pasteur said, "It's easy to do experiments, but hard to do
them flawlessly."

david fisher

univ miami

>From James D. Perry  < [ >

Dear Benny,

Paul Davies' "simple solution" is not so simple. Landing an airplane
involves much more than putting down the landing gear and flaps, assuming a
landing airspeed and attitude and then touching down. It requires sequencing
with other aircraft that can begin several hundreds of miles from the
destination that may require heading, altitude, and airspeed changes
(usually in combination) to allow a smooth flow of airplanes to the airport,
and ultimately, to the runway. Those auto-land capabilities are even used on
our aircraft carriers, but the plane has to be marshaled into the landing
sequence and someone has to control that.  

The auto-land feature is called a 'coupled' landing: you fly the airplane to
a set place where you 'capture' a landing signal (i.e., make certain the
plane has the correct signal and, yes, it is possible to capture a side-lobe
and be off by 30-45 degrees, so it is good to have a pilot in the loop
before you let the autopilot land the plane).  A flight director gives
steering instructions to the pilot to keep him on course and glidepath until
100 feet or so above the intended touchdown and hopefully from there he can
find the runway and execute the landing.

I read a letter in the Washington Post over the weekend where someone
recommended depressurizing the plane.  The crew can put on oxygen masks and
at 35,000 feet the time of useful consciousness (TUC) is in the range of
10-15 seconds when one doesn't have oxygen at hand -- that would mean they
would be unconscious pretty quickly.  Problem is, those little yellow masks
would automatically deploy when a cabin is depressurized and that would be a
pretty good signal to the hijackers that they ought to put one on -- if they
paid attention during the pretakeoff safety briefings.  

Hermann Burchard argues that encryption would probably prevent hackers from
interfering with the solution proposed in DIE WELT (remotely flying hijacked
planes by telemetry). I will only observe that American civilian airliners
are indispensable to military operations. During Desert Shield, for example,
the Civil Reserve Air Fleet flew some 400,000 troops to Saudi Arabia. This
has several implications. The ability to hack into any telemetry-based
system would be a top priority for foreign nations that wished to cripple
our power projection capabilities. Encryption might be difficult to defeat,
but the reward for success would be tremendous -- this, by itself, could win
the war for them. Even a credible demonstration of such a capability (say,
by crashing one plane) could be used to deter U.S. military action or to
coerce America politically. Therefore, the U.S. military would doubtless
strenuously oppose such a system, because they could never be absolutely
sure that the system was tamper-proof. In short, why give enemies and
terrorists one more potentially huge vulnerability to exploit?

My simple, inexpensive, hacker-proof solution is to give the pilot a large
caliber, slow muzzle velocity handgun with hollow-point bullets.  Those
would do quite well at taking down the perpetrators without punching holes
in the cabin.  Another simple solution would be a sawed off shotgun that
would greet anyone entering the cockpit uninvited.


James D. Perry

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